Before I leave England, I need to tell you a few things about my British refrigerator.
I hate my British refrigerator. It’s about thigh-high, and it has enough room for twelve cans of lager or six loaves of Sainsbury’s garlic bread, but not both. It’s a “Lec” model, which I assume is a short version of “Electric.” The British have an odd mania for cutesy abbreviations: Mariah Carey is Mazza, Madonna is Madge, loose-cannon footballer Paul Gascoigne is Gazza. The British version of my name, I am given to understand, is Gavvers.
The freezer is big enough for exactly three trays of ice cubes, assuming that the layers of frost haven’t built up too much. I had a larger refrigerator in my dorm room when I was in college. This year, I have given up on any notion of cooking large amounts of chili/soup/whatever and storing leftovers. I don’t know that this has made my meals more diverse, but it has at least made them more spontaneous. Bread is always kept outside the fridge, as are water and soda. I have grown accustomed to tepid beverages, and revel in the luxury when I go to a restaurant and they serve me an ice-cold Diet Coke.
Since the British climate is generally cool, they don’t bother with putting most things in the fridge. I knew this before I moved to the UK, but I didn’t have any real understanding of just how alien the whole technology of freezing is to the British Empire until, when we were cleaning out the kitchen drawers last week, we found a small book from 1976 titled WILL IT FREEZE?–A DICTIONARY OF MORE THAN 200 FOODS AND HOW TO FREEZE THEM. It sold for 95 pence, but was clearly worth much, much more than that. In its own way, it’s a radical pamphlet advocating a whole new mode of life for the British populace. Frankly, I would be remiss if I did not share some excerpts with you.
From the introduction:
Will it freeze? How often have you wondered that, when debating whether to take advantage of a bargain buy or perhaps a new-to-you garden vegetable? It was to answer that question that the original Will it Freeze Dictionary was compiled by Joan Hood in 1974. She listed, then, some 200 foods and how to freeze them.
Since then the Dictionary has become, as one reader put it, ‘every freezer-cook’s handbook.’ But as more and more people become first-time freezer owners, it’s become obvious that we should add to the book.
Not only do you want facts on what will freeze and what won’t. You also need to be able to look up–quickly, easily, accurately–just about everything about choosing and managing the freezer itself–including advice on such topical matters as bulk buying, power cuts, microwaves. So as well as having more foodstuffs listed, our revised book now has over 100 new entries on ‘freezer knowhow.’
To use this book, look up FOODS in the first half (white pages). And find everything to do with FREEZER MANAGEMENT in the second part (blue pages).
And remember–if you have any queries about any aspect of cooking for the freezer, or choosing or using the freezer itself–write to Home & Freezer Digest–the only women’s magazine that specialises in the needs of the freezer owner. If you haven’t yet seen Home & Freezer Digest–look for it on bookstalls or in freezer centres on the second Thursday of every month. We think you’ll be surprised at how much is in it for you!
If you have a large amount of fresh suet from a meat carcass, use some of it for making suet puddings. Weigh the rest out into small portions, pack in polythene bags and freeze.
If your freezer is more empty than it should be, fill with boxes containing crumpled newspaper to cut down on running costs. Stack the boxes in the top section of an upright freezer.
These can be frozen raw or cooked. Trim off any fat and cut away blood vessels. Wash well in cold water, drain and dry. Pack into polythene bags and freeze.
These are Italian baby marrows and like the French courgette, have been developed for cutting when quite small. Use young zucchini about 3 ins. long. Wipe with a damp cloth. Cut into 1/2 in. slices. Blanch for 1 min, drain, cool and open-freeze. Or saute in butter for 1 min, cool and pack into rigid containers, leving 1/2 in. headspace, or into polythene bags, seal and freeze.
Don’t bother to freeze the normal rich pudding. There is no point in taking up valuable freezer space when it weill keep perfectly well on the larder shelf. If you make a lighter pudding freeze it. Boil it first for 6 hours. When cold, remove from basin, wrap in greaseproof paper and foil. Freeze.
Recommended freezer life: 4 months.
To use: thaw overnight. Replace pudding in its original basin, well buttered, cover with buttered paper and foil. Boil 2-3 hours.